Primary Sources: Le Morte D’Arthur, Book II Chapter VI
As Balin stands over Lance’s dead body, up rides another figure on a horse. It’s a maiden! Not the one from whom Balin took his new sword, but a different one. Specifically, it’s Lanceor’s girlfriend. This one gets a name, but Malory doesn’t think to mention it for quite a while: Colombe.
“Noooo!” Colombe sobs, and clutches at Lance’s corpse, and then she picks up Lance’s sword, and Balin tries to get it away from her but somehow in the confusion she ends up stabbing herself in the chest. That’s how Balin relates the story to people afterwards, anyway.
“I can’t help feeling partially responsible,” says Balin. “If I hadn’t angered Arthur then he wouldn’t have sent this Irish knight after me, and then I wouldn’t have had to kill him, and then this maiden wouldn’t have picked up his sword and then carefully balanced it on its end on the ground and leaped upon it, stabbing herself in the chest and leaving a wound that so closely resembles a conventional stab-wound such as a man like myself might have inflicted by stabbing her.”
Moved with sadness at this scene, he turns away, and looks down (this whole scene has taken place on a mountaintop, did I mention that?) at the forest below, and sees another rider coming up, and it is, by strange chance, his brother Balan.
That’s right: Balin and Balan. No way that’s needlessly confusing.
“Your squire found me,” says Balan. “He was pretty drunk but I got that you were out of prison, so I came up to this mountaintop to look for you.”
“Worked out,” says Balin.
“So what’s new?” asks Balan.
“Aw, man, I was minding my own business and then this girl wearing nothing but a scabbard wanted me to pull out her sword, and then she wanted it back!”
“The nerve!” says Balan.
“I know! So I told her off, and then I’m leaving, and Arthur is like, don’t go, but I’m like, I’m going! And then the Lady of the Lake shows up!”
“No way!” says Balan.
“So naturally I kill her, and suddenly I’m the bad guy!”
“Outrageous!” says Balan.
“So of course I ride off and then this knight comes up and tries to joust me, so of course I kill him.”
“Of course,” says Balan.
“And then his lady-friend rides up and she’s sobbing and screaming and she grabs his sword –”
“Whoa!” says Balan. “Ladies aren’t allowed to touch swords!”
“That’s what I said!” cries Balin. “And then she stabbed herself in the chest, no way did I kill her.”
“Wow,” says Balan.
“I know!” says Balin.
“Still, it’s all in God’s hands, right?” says Balan.
“Yeah. The real tragedy here is that Arthur’s mad at me,” says Balin. “I have a plan to deal with that, though. I’m going to murder King Rience, that’ll make everyone love me again. I might have to murder some more people along the way, but once I kill Rience everything will be great again and I’ll go back to Camelot and there will be a pizza party. I know, somehow Malory hasn’t bothered to specify, that Rience is currently occupying Castle Terrabil, so that’s where I’m headed.”
“I’ll come with!” says Balan. “You and I should be in more scenes together. Our names are awesome.”
Once again: Balin is stupid. Also Balan is stupid too, apparently.
I guess now is as good a time as any to tell you about your brother, Jaffrey, that we had to give up for adoption because it was just too confusing.